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Beyond Fire Drills: Is Your Organization Prepared for an Active Shooter?

Posted on September 16, 2014 in Emergency Preparedness Blog
Turn on the news following a mass shooting and the witness describe the same scene: people barricading themselves in rooms, hiding under tables, scrambling for shelter as a shooter stalks through the building. 

As unlikely as it seems, it is possible to prepare for this situation and make your workplace safer.

The Current Statistics

The FBI defines a mass shooting as an event where four or more people are killed.  USA Today used that definition to analyze 146 mass shootings during the last seven years and found that over 900 people had been killed in mass shootings. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence defines a mass shooting as three or more people killed or injured in a single incident. Following their standard, they estimate more than 20 mass shootings per year in the US.  

The Need for Drills

Practice makes perfect. Most of the victims or witnesses involved in a mass shooting were taught how to calmly evacuate a building in case of a fire as children, but almost none of them know how to react if they are faced with gunfire.  Conducting regular drills provides your organization with the muscle memory to respond effectively to an active shooter incident. 


The Importance of Planning

In addition to drills and training, your business should plan for an active shooter as it would other disasters. We recommend the following best practices.

  • Devote a section of your Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) to active shooter procedures Train your existing staff and new hires to follow the procedures in your OEP.
  • Exercise active shooter procedures as you would fire drills, at least twice per year.
  • Planning will instill confidence and a create a culture of preparedness at all levels of your organization  

The Comfort of Preparedness

Active shooters are not something most people want to think about, but avoidance won’t keep you, your employees, or your business safe. Remember too that we learn to exit buildings safely during fire drills in school and at work, and we have some idea how to proceed in other buildings if a fire breaks out. If you take the time to train your employees, they’ll have that information no matter where they go. Some parameters will change, but knowing the basics of how to behave in an active shooter situation may save their lives even if they aren’t at the office.  


It’s easy to avoid uncomfortable topics, and we all do it. But don’t let discomfort lead to a lack of preparation. If you need help with active shooter preparation, we’re here to guide you and your staff through the process. 

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